No, really! I mean that totally literally, and if you somehow manage to miss that pun the first time through, In Time will help you out by repeating it over and over and over and over and over and over
See, In Time is set in a far-flung dystopian future where science has curbstomped the aging gene. Yeah, yeah, you start off as a normal enough little tyke and eat your Wheaties and grow up to be an adult or whatever, but once you hit twenty-five, everything freezes. Whatever you are at that moment is what you'll always be: young and beautiful for the rest of your days. Even though you don't have to fret so much about crow's feet or cancer, your body has its own internal clock that starts ticking away at twenty-five. Seriously, look at those glowing numbers on your forearm there. The benevolent High Sheriffs have bestowed upon you one more year of life. Once the countdown hits zero, it's fade to black, roll credits-time. That's not to say you're necessarily over and done with twelve months later; you can earn more time by toiling away in a factory for slave's wages or maybe borrow an hour or two if someone's feeling generous. When someone asks you if you've got a minute, they don't wanna talk -- they want to stave off death for another sixty seconds. Time is also traded like currency: everything from the water bill to a food truck burrito takes hours off your life. You've gotta be careful with the time you've got because...well, time flies.
So, yeah: aging may be a thing of the past, but capitalism is alive and well. You've got your unwashed masses slaving away in the slums for whatever scraps of seconds are tossed their way, and a dozen Time Zones away are the boo-hiss 1% who are essentially immortal. Whatever group you're born into is generally where you're
In Time is...yeah, kind of a mess. At the end of the day, it's an eighteen page short story in search of a movie. The political and social commentary turns out to be more timely, so to speak, than writer/director Andrew Niccol could ever have anticipated what with the whole I-am-the-99% movement, but it's so heavy-handed. It's not subtext so much as Niccol grabbing you by the shoulders, barking in your face about the
Niccol is wholly unable to generate any sense of energy or urgency to anything that's going on throughout In Time. The overbearing preachiness plays more like a Sunday morning sermon than a metaphor. The endless onslaught of time-related puns gets really grating really quickly, especially since Timberlake loves to throw in excruciatingly long pauses every time he makes one. Y'know, "I don't have time..." -- hold for eight beats -- "...for this right now" or whatever. In Time's skeleton of a plot is about as standard issue as it gets, just with a few more sci-fi trappings, and the characters that litter it aren't infused with any charisma or imagination whatsoever. I mean, they're never in any danger of coming across as people. Sure, sure, In Time gets a few things right. I genuinely do like the core concept of bartering with life as well as the social, psychological, and economic ramifications of medical science eventually curing so much of what ails us. Some of the time puns really are clever, like that foxy hooker who smirkingly offers ten minutes for an hour. On paper, at least, this is a cast I'd be kinda jazzed about watching in a sci-fi flick. It's just that In Time is a slo-mo collision of an inspired premise with uninspired everything-else. Stagnant, uninvolving, preachy, and aggressively derivative, In Time doesn't warrant anything more than a couple of clicks on Netflix, and even that's kind of pushing it. Rent It.
It's a glossy science fiction flick fresh out of theaters; of course In Time looks great. Roger Deakins' cinematography is strikingly sharp and detailed, the largely muted palette is reproduced flawlessly, and black levels remain impressively substantial throughout. No missteps in the authoring of this disc caught my attention at any time. The one oddity that does creep in is how video-like so much of its final fifteen minutes look to my eyes, but In Time almost certainly looked the same way theatrically, leaving that likely veering somewhere towards pointless nitpicking. A very strong effort.
The AVC encode for In Time spans both layers of this BD-50 disc, and it's properly letterboxed to an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 or so.
In Time is rocking a kinda monstrous 24-bit, 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The low-end is constantly snarling, and the surrounds hardly ever ease up on the throttle...everything from subtly convincing
A six-channel Descriptive Video Service track has also been included, as are Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs in French and Spanish. Subtitles are limited to English (SDH) and Spanish.
The second disc in the set is a hybrid DVD-slash-digital copy. Also tucked inside is a code to play as Sylvia in the In Time iOS game, and the whole thing comes packaged in a metallic cardboard slipcover.
The Final Word
In Time is a potentially compelling concept bobbing around in a sprawling sea of formula and mediocrity. Rent It, I guess.